Multiple people who are believed to have been workmates have died after a car crash led to the vehicle bursting into flames in Victoria’s High Country.
Emergency services were called to Mansfield-Woods Point Road in Piries, about 214km northeast of Melbourne, at about 7:45am by a motorist to reports of a car on fire.
The driver is believed to have lost control of the vehicle and careened off the road before striking a tree and becoming engulfed in flames, killing all occupants.
Police believe four people were inside the vehicle, understood to be a rental 2012 Kia Carnival, at the time of the incident.
However efforts to identify both the victims and the car are being hindered by extensive fire damage.
Glenn Weir, the state’s Road Policing Assistant Commissioner, said the victims are believed to have been colleagues.
Multiple people have died after a car crash led to the vehicle bursting into flames in Victoria’s High Country on Sunday morning (pictured)
Commissioner Weir described the scene as ‘confronting’ for passersby who were first on the scene and found both the car and victims still smouldering.
‘A terrible, terrible thing for that (passerby) to witness and of course the volunteers and the CFA and the locals who go there, that’s a really confronting scene for them as well,’ he said.
Police are still unsure if the victims died from the collision or the flame.
The vehicle could be seen burnt out in a field just metres away from the road, the blaze also having burnt through a ring of grass surrounding it.
The car is believed to have been rented from a company in the Gippsland area, east of the crash-site, however the victims are believed to have been locals to the areas surrounding Mansfield.
While investigators take into account all possible circumstances, Commissioner Weir said that speed was ‘an obvious’ influence in the crash.
He also noted that the area is known to be highly populated with both deer and kangaroos.
Anyone with information has been urged to contact CrimeStoppers.
Police believe the driver lost control of the vehicle shortly before the crash which led to a fire breaking out, killing all occupants (pictured, police on the scene)
Northbound lanes on Mansfield-Woods Point Road have been closed between Jenkin Road and Chapel Hill Road, according to VicTraffic.
Motorists have been urged to avoid the area and instead use the Goulburn Valley and Maroondah highways.
Commissioner Weir highlighted the horror year of deaths on Victorian roads that the crash has added to.
‘The collision this morning brings that number to 11 double fatalities this year for quadruple fatalities, and two quintuple fatalities,’ he said in a press conference on Sunday.
‘So that’s 34 extra lives lost this year just in multiple fatalities.’
The suspected four lives lost will bring the total death-toll on Victorian roads in 2023 to 256, a 15-year high for the state.
The Melbourne Cup long weekend saw 13 people killed in road accidents, pushing the total figure past the 241 deaths on the state’s roads in 2022.
‘The fact we’ve also surpassed lives lost for all of last year and reached the highest number of fatalities in 15-years is just truly tragic,’ Commissioner Weir said in a statement on Wednesday.
The crash occurred on Mansfield-Woods Point Road in Piries, south of Mansfield and about 214km northeast of Melbourne (pictured)
Among the 13 deaths were three adults and two children who were killed when a car crashed into the beer garden in front of the historic Royal Hotel at Daylesford, northwest of Melbourne.
The driver is believed to have suffered a medical episode, did not have drugs or alcohol in his system and his only previous brushes with the law are speeding tickets.
Commissioner Weir said police found the figures ‘concerning’ and urged those driving on Victorian roads to remain cautious.
‘With two months to go in the year, it is incredibly concerning that we find ourselves in this position,’ he said.
‘This should be a wake up call to everyone – don’t think that road trauma can’t happen to you, because it can.’
More to come.